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The currency is virtual as Canada opens the first bitcoin ATM

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The currency is virtual as Canada opens the first bitcoin ATM


A familiar scene replicated in towns and cities across the world is the queue at the ATM for cash. But in the virtual world there are of course no coins or notes so outside a cafe in Vancouver the world’s first virtual ATM is ready to swap your bitcoins – as the currency is known for cash or you can purchase more.

It’s possible in Canada because of less stringent regulations.

“Right now we are seeing a consistent Increase in demand for bitcoins and rightfully so because the currency is getting more useful,” explained Jordan Kelly, CEO of Robocoin the company that builds the ATMs.

A limit set on how much you can exchange 2,800 US dollars or 3,000 Canadian dollars each day. The machine scans your hand and funds then move to a virtual wallet or your smartphone without going through a bank thus cutting costs. At the moment one bitcoin gets you 200 dollars.

The currencies value has soared in the last twelve months. Some investors – it’s has been claimed are treating bitcoins like gold using them to hedge against currency fluctuations and speculating on their rise.

Mystery surrounds the genesis of the currency. It came into being in 2008 but who was behind it? A programmer called Satoshi Nakomoto is credited with its invention though it’s believed that is a pseudonym -it could refer to a number of people. What’s clear are the many advantages and disadvantages.

The bitcoin can give easy access to illegal activities such as money laundering, drug trafficking and prostitution.

Yes every coin has two sides to it even in the virtual world and the promise of financial freedom and the anonymity behind it could have a huge effect on the stability of the economic world.

“We do not know from where the purchasing power of the currency comes, we do not know everyone who is behind it. There is no bank, no monetary authority behind it and so it’s a problem, because the stability of the whole economic could be undermined,” explained Sergio Rossi Professor of Economics at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland

In Norway’s capital Olso such thoughts are probably far from the mind of Kristopher Koch. The 29-year-old has just bought an apartment in an upmarket district of the city thanks to cashing in some bitcoins he had bought four years ago for 22 dollars.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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